J Altern Complement Med 1997 Summer; 3 (2): 127-140
Kelner M, Wellman B
Institute for Human Development,
Life Course and Aging,
University of Toronto, Ontario
This article compares the social and health characteristics of patients of five kinds of practitioners: family physicians (used as a baseline group); chiropractors; acupuncturist/traditional Chinese medicine doctors; naturopaths; and Reiki practitioners. The data were gathered in a large Canadian city during the period 1994 to 1995. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 300 patients (60 from each type of treatment group). While the most striking social and health differences occur between patients of family physicians and the patients of alternative practitioners, significant differences are also evident between the different groups of alternative patients. Reiki patients, for example, have a higher level of education and are more likely to be in managerial or professional positions than other alternative patients. The profiles presented here indicate that users of alternative care should not be regarded as a homogeneous population. The findings also show that almost all alternative patients also consult family physicians. The pattern revealed is one of multiple use: patients choose the kind of practitioner they believe can best help their particular problem.